At only 10 years old, 81% of the girls are already afraid that they might be too fat. 91% of women later in life end up being unhappy with the way their body looks. 80% of them have started feeling this way because of the pressure that the media puts while presenting the “perfect body”. And although the media is slowly making some positive changes, and we have a lot of movements about body positivity, these numbers are still staggering. Starting to feel insecure about your body at such a young age as 10 (or even younger!), can lead to permanent consequences, and increase the risk of anxiety, depression, eating disorders and other mental health issues.
So, even though we have all these body positivity movements and school programs to teach young women about self-love, we still aren’t getting much progress. In fact, a recent research has shown that in most cases, these programs not only fail to properly help, but also create an epidemic of...well...narcissism.
Where are we going wrong?
Being confident VS being confident
Often, we’re afraid to be confident because we are afraid that it might be taken as being arrogant, and narcissistic, and truth is - it sometimes is - we’ve seen it. But why do we end up mixing these two? Is the line between confident and arrogant so thin? Or maybe just our understanding of what confidence truly means?
Often times, young women build their confidence based on the ideals that the mass media is putting in front of them. Comparing themselves to someone they see on TV, or to someone that is popular at school. The pressure to achieve creates frustration, and their attempt to truly feel good and comfortable in their own skin doesn’t start from the right place.
What is the right place to start?
The right place to start is acceptance. Showing young women how to accept themselves without comparing and wishing they were someone else is a good way to start. Being mindful about who they are and giving them the opportunity to identify themselves from a mindful, good place.
Guide with positive models
As hard as we try to avoid comparing ourselves to someone else, it’s impossible. It’s just a part of who we are. It doesn’t always come from a bad place - sometimes we are just inspired by other people’s stories. It is important that young women learn to look up to positive role models, not compare themselves.
Comparing ourselves without understanding that we, too, have good sides and that our differences aren’t our weakness, but our strength that makes the world beautiful can only build up a feeling that we are expected to be a certain way in order to be loved or seen as good enough.
While a dose of self-criticism is healthy, too much self-criticism does not help us grow and become the best version of ourselves
You can not stop a person from criticising themselves, but you can teach them how to do it right. When young women know how to look at what they want to improve without harsh feelings for not being a certain way, it is more likely that they will make progress towards self-kindness and self-care.
So, the conclusion?
Teach mindfulness acceptance, not just empty words about how everyone is beautiful in their own way
Instead of just telling young women that they’re beautiful for who they are, encourage them to truly see it. We should show them how to identify the things that they want to change within a healthy, positive space of mind. Giving them the skills to cope with the pressure that the every day world brings upon them, and the expectations from others that they may meet, instead of just telling them that it is okay to be different. Learning through sharing positive experiences of self-acceptance over comparison with someone else, and of course, learning to accept others as we accept ourselves.
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